Friday, August 15, 2014

Two Poems by David Chorlton

A Rattlesnake in Summer

In her place on warm concrete
where a board has come loose
from the house,
a rattlesnake wound tight
has come from the dark space
to soak in morning sun.
                            She's golden
with brown angled all
along her body, and her eyes
look out from a current of scales
when she shifts to accommodate
the light, sliding
                 against a metal tube
lying on the ground to mark
how close is safe
for anyone approaching,
until hunger leads her
to the grass,
               and she stutters forward
to where it slopes
toward the road winding through
the mountains that cut
into the sky's every storm
                       and settle back
in place when the universe
at night flows overhead
after lightning has passed,
                       in the calm
that follows a bite.

Arboretum Afternoon

A bobcat's scent lingers
beneath the bridge that swings
across the shadow cast
by the cliff face leaning over
a thread of water
on a day too warm for February.
An agave rooted in darkness

leans into the light
with a raven holding to it
by a talon and a call
that flies into the trees
from every continent
which find asylum here
among the sheltered trails,

one of which climbs
a twisting course
to the lookout point
above the lake, in the dry air

through which the desert
floats all the way
to the final ridge before infinity.

David Chorlton came to Phoenix from Europe in 1978 with his wife Roberta, an Arizona native.  He quickly became comfortable with the climate while adjusting to the New World too longer.  Writing and reading poetry have helped immensely in that respect, as has exposure to the American small presses.  Arizona's landscape and wildlife became increasingly important to him both as a source of pleasure and a measure of how precarious the natural world is.  Thirty years ago he regarded the idea of "nature poetry" as one tainted with sentimentality but today it appears ever more necessary as an element of resistance to the conformity that Edward Abbey confronted so well in his writings on the Southwest.  FutureCycle Press recently published his Selected Poems.

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